Most people associate speech therapy with the ability or lack there of to speak, and therapy associated with that. Speech rehabilitation is only a small part of what speech therapist do. In fact, speech-language therapists have many responsibilities in acute-care settings, medical inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation and rehabilitation in the home care setting.
Speech Therapist work closely with physician specialists (ENTs, neurologists, neurosurgeons, physiatrists, internists, family practitioners) to diagnose a range of problems, and initiate treatment. Speech Therapist also play a role in hearing conservation. They are qualified to screen patients’ hearing to determine if a referral to an audiologist is necessary.
One of the more common clinical uses of speech therapy, especially in the homecare setting is in the diagnosis of neurological conditions. Speech Therapist are often asked to evaluate both cognitive (thinking, knowing, perceiving) and physiological (physical) problems. The way in which a person speaks and uses language reveals a great deal about thought-processing skills, memory deficits, and the ability to focus attention. Deficits in these areas can indicate brain injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and a host of other neurologic conditions. Because Speech Therapist are trained to identify unusual patterns in speech, their assessment can be extremely important to an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan.
Speech Therapy is highly effective with those who have difficulty in swallowing. Difficulty in swallowing is common among patients who have suffered a stroke or who have other neurological diseases, like multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Speech Therapist use a variety of diagnostic tools to detect swallowing problems and treat patients to overcome swallowing difficulties associated with their disease.
One of the most under utilized uses for speech therapy in Home Care is for cognitive uses. Often patients have difficulty retrieving words, sequencing activities, and understanding what they hear and what they read. Cognitive therapy is designed to provide clients with strategies to improve their thinking skills and their every-day functioning.
At Nurse On Call we utilize speech therapist for more than just talking, we utilize their expertise for all forms of communication. The ability to communicate is more than just talking. It involves listening, understanding, reading, and writing. For communication to make sense it also involves being able to think clearly and remember information. Speech Therapy is covered at 100% to those who meet the Medicare guidelines for home health, and we have a therapist for that!
For more information on speech therapy and other home health services, please call your local Nurse On Call branch.